From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014
Fine Art and Fine Cake
Clearing my great uncle’s place is a labour worthy of Hercules, only instead of shit filling a stable it’s papers, magazines and scrapbooks and they’re absolutely everywhere. I found a loose floorboard (by nearly putting my foot through and coming a cropper). When I went to fix it I found a couple of shoeboxes full of clippings and photocopies of articles about ‘Marian apparitions’ stuffed into the space beneath the board. Jane says he wasn’t a hoarder but when you find yellowing papers on mass hysteria from the middle of last century, hidden under the floor, you have to wonder.
I needed a break from it so I headed into the town proper, the ‘dreaming spires’ and all that and I needed to talk to administration about finding this Wilcox guy who did a lot of the art.
Bicycles, students, old buildings and shitty parking. That pretty much sums Oxford up, though it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer weight of history the place has. History and poshness and students braying like particularly privileged goats.
I grabbed a spot of late breakfast/early lunch at the Oxford Organic Deli, which isn’t that far from the famous Trinity College. Then I dropped by the administration and put in my request and pottered about doing some touristy type stuff until they called me and let me know Wilcox was willing to talk to me.
Wilcox is a bizarre guy, almost your stereotypical artist. He had a house share with some other students who weren’t that pleased to see me and didn’t seem too pleased to be sharing a place with him either. He’d taken over the shed as a work space and that’s where I found him.
Raggedy looking guy, if I put him in one of my books people would write him off as trite and cliche. One of those straggly young-man beards, looked like he was on drugs (no, I’m not being judgemental, I remember what cannabis smells like) and all he seemed to care about was his art.
It was the same weird stuff I’d seen at my uncle’s place and it’s hard to describe. Weird, unsettling shapes kind of like a Möbius strip or a Klein bottle but inadequately represented in two dimensions. It hurts your eyes when you look at it, trying to follow all the lines and curves and make sense of it. I can’t really describe it right but clearly he’d taken some inspiration from mathematics and that’s not that unusual if you think about the golden ratio or a Fibonacci spiral. You see the same kinds of things in language – rhyme and meter in poetry, the rule of three in public speaking and so on.
He wasn’t very forthcoming really but it wasn’t just him who’d done the art, it was other students in his tutor group as well. That was a bit surprising because it was all the same kind of shape, the same kind of thought the art was seeking to express, just in different media and from different perspectives. I’d thought Wilcox had done all of it.
That’s when it got weird, of course.
I went back to the admin and tried to get in touch with some of the other artists but unlike Wilcox they didn’t seem willing to talk to me. Some of them had dropped out without leaving contact information, others I found nothing out about at all. I managed to talk to the parents of one of the students who lived locally, Maria Hayley and while they seemed standoffish they told me she was at church that evening and with a bit of wheedling told me which one.
It turned out to be one of those weird ‘spiritualist’ churches, the ones that claim to be mediums and to contact the dead. All that Derek Acorah bullshit I’ve never had any time for. Frauds. I dropped by anyway, thinking I’d wait for the service to end and collar her about the art but standing outside that sad little building and listening to the weird chanting and speaking in tongues going on inside I bottled it and left.
There’s a story of some kind here, I can sense it and it seems weird that my great uncle should die and leave me this mess to investigate. I can’t shake the feeling there’s something big and important going on and I want to be part of it. Maybe it’s all in my head though and I just want a good story, the kind you just don’t normally get in the real world.